Podcasting has been a popular medium for listening to radio and internet broadcasts for years now. The concept is simple: every time you plug your MP3 player into a computer, load it with the latest episodes of your favorite podcasts and listen to them later, when you’re out and about. However, many phones now act as MP3 players and many MP3 players are now internet-enabled. Shouldn’t it be possible to load the latest podcasts without a connection to a computer? That’s where Podcaster comes in. Podcaster was the first feature-rich podcast download client to appear for the iOS platform, first as a jailbroken app, then in reduced functionality in the App Store as RSS Player, then finally as the full-fledged legitimate Podcaster iOS app. Read on to find out just how well it works.
Podcaster has a wide variety of novel and very useful features, including:
- Supports audio and video podcasts
- Downloads podcasts without iTunes
- Downloads podcasts without requiring a WIFI connection
- Downloads podcasts in the background for 10 minutes after the app is closed
- Resumes partially-downloaded podcasts
- Downloads from password-protected podcast feeds
- Checks for new podcast episodes at pre-programmed times of day and adds them to the download queue
- Checks all feeds for new podcast episodes on-demand
- Push notifications when new episodes are available for download
- Optional sound effects indicate when downloads are complete
- Stream episodes without downloading at all
- Retina Graphics
- Custom playlists
- Resumes playing automatically after interruptions
- Plays podcasts in the background
- Supports iPod-compatible wireless and wired remotes
- Supports bluetooth speakers
- Share via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox
- Imports and exports OPML backup files
- Imports podcasts from iTunes or the iPod app
- Supports external displays
- Accessible with VoiceOver
- Sleep timer
The History of Podcaster
I’m going to stray from the standard review here to get into Podcaster’s tumultuous history as I understand it. Podcaster was originally written in the early days of the App Store, voot premium apk download but was summarily rejected by Apple. Apple’s excuse for this was that Podcaster violated App Store policies by duplicating features included with Apple’s operating system. While it’s true that the iTunes app then (as it does now) had the ability to downlaod podcasts directly to the device, it was a very cumbersome process that involved looking up and downloading podcast episodes one at a time, every time you wanted to grab new ones. This was a horrible solution. Believe me, I tried it for a while. I eventually got fed up, and this was one of the things that led me to jailbreak my own device, but I digress. After failure in the app store, Podcaster’s author released it as a jailbroken app, and there it remained for a long time. Eventually, the author developed another app called RSS Player.
RSS Player was an app designed to track internet RSS feeds and allow audio content in those feeds to be played on the device. It is important to note here that a podcast is defined (in technical terms) a list of audio files encoded into an RSS feed; the author had found a sneaky way to get a podcast player into the app store by redefining what the app was intended to do. However, RSS Player was not pretty. It was such a stripped-down version of Podcaster that often it barely functioned at all. It went through several update cycles, but while those updates fixed some of its issues, they always introduced more. I wouldn’t have recommended RSS Player to anyone but the most die-hard podcast fans.
Then after what seemed like forever, the day finally came that Podcaster was allowed into the App Store. The author had to make a few compromises (one of which I’ll explain later), and the app got rejected a couple more times before it was finally accepted, but things have been much better ever since.